Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.
On 18 February 2018, an Airbus A320-232 departed Melbourne, Victoria (Vic.) on a scheduled passenger flight to Sydney, New South Wales (NSW). At about 0915 Eastern Daylight-saving Time (EDT), cabin crew were alerted to a fire in the cabin.
The cabin crew traced the source of the fire to three smartphone devices located in a passenger bag at row five. The crew subsequently discharged a fire extinguisher and followed the operator’s procedure for the management of a lithium battery fire. The fire was successfully extinguished and the devices isolated in a container until the end of the flight.
Personal electronic devices (PEDs) such as smartphones contain lithium batteries, which are classed as dangerous goods. The incidence of passenger smartphones resulting in fire on board aircraft has increased. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has published advice on the ‘Least wanted dangerous goods’ carried by passengers. Lost or damaged smartphones were identified as the number one hazardous item on passenger aircraft in 2017. Previous Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigations AO-2016-051 and AO-2016-066 provide further examples of incidents of passenger smartphones causing in-flight fires and smoke events.
This incident highlights the need for passengers to become familiar with the hazards associated with the carriage of personal electronic devices, in particular, the potential for fire if a device is damaged or overheated.
Fire on board aircraft is potentially catastrophic if not managed quickly and appropriately. It is important for operators to ensure crew receive training and are periodically tested in the management of lithium battery fires on board aircraft.
About this report
Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.
|Date:||18 February 2018||Investigation status:||Completed|
|State:||New South Wales|
|Release Date:||28 March 2018||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Type of operation||Air Transport High Capacity|
|Damage to aircraft||Nil|